The BJP may fight the Punjab elections in alliance with the parties of Captain Amarinder Singh and former Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday.
“We are talking to Captain (Amarinder Singh) saab as well as (former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh) Dhindsa saab. It is possible we will have an alliance. As far as the farmers’ protests are concerned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, showing a big heart to end the protests and saying, fine if you think the farm laws are not in your benefit, took them back. I don’t think there is any issue left in Punjab. Elections in Punjab will be fought on merits,” Shah said during an interview at HT Summit.
Speaking at length on Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister said statehood would be restored only after elections, and those demanding it were merely trying to create a political controversy.
“There is a political demand that first statehood be restored in Jammu and Kashmir and then elections be held. Parliament has passed a law for delimitation in the region. So, first delimitation will happen, then elections will happen, and the process of restoration of statehood will begin. I have said this many times, but they are only trying to create a political controversy,” Shah said.
“But I am certain the kind of atmosphere of development and law order that has been created under the leadership of LG (Manoj Sinha)… record number of tourists are coming to Kashmir… Kashmir is among the top five regions as far as public welfare schemes are concerned… I believe the people of Kashmir welcome this change. I appeal to all political parties there to participate in the democratic process,” he added.
In reply to a question on the recent killing of civilians, particularly non-Muslim outsiders and Kashmiri pandits, Shah said, “I recently saw a statement by (Farooq) Abdullah saab that Kashmir will see peace only when Article 370 is restored. Article 370 was there for 75 years, why was there no peace? If there is a relationship between Article 370 and peace, was it not there in the 1990s. Use any dimension to assess (law and order)… include the (recent) targeted killings (of civilians), we will not reach even 10 per cent (of what the situation was earlier). This means that peace has been restored.”
Shah said people have criticised him and PM Modi for imposing curfew and banning internet in the region, but it was to ensure safety of the local people.
“I asked the youth there, who would die if the curfew is opened, and they said ‘we would’. So, what those who were opposing the curfew wanted, is something the people of the country should determine,” Shah said.
Speaking on the Uttar Pradesh elections, Shah said Opposition parties entering into alliances would have no impact, and that BJP would get a thumping majority.
“It is not right to assess votes on the basis of coalitions. Politics is not physics, it is chemistry. When two parties come together, their votes will also add up, is an assessment I don’t agree with. When two chemicals mix, some other chemical is formed. We have seen it in the past. The Samajwadi Party and Congress came together. Then all three parties came together. Both times, the BJP won. People are not guided by coalitions based on arithmetic of votebanks. We are winning UP with thumping majority,” he said.
On the issue of the farmers’ protests impacting the elections, Shah said, “Even earlier, the impact of the farmers’ protests was less in UP. And now, there is just no reason.”
The Home Minister said the government was closely watching the developments around the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, and was also following the research happening across the world.
“Till now there is no confirmation of any kind. Whenever there is, it will be made public. Only through awareness this battle can be fought better. We should stay alert and everyone who has not taken the second dose should do it,” he said.
Shah, however, said the government would not make vaccination compulsory as it leads to unnecessary controversy.
“Those who used to mock ringing of bells, clapping and wearing of masks are all quiet today. We emerged successful in the battle. It is because, across the world, governments fought Covid. In India, 130 crore people were united by Narendra Modi in the battle. He instilled discipline among the people. After Lal Bahadur Shastri, I have not seen the country paying so much respect to the words of any leader as it did to Narendra Modi,” he said.